how to pass step 1

How To Pass Step 1 USMLE: Road To Success 2023

There are some checkpoints along the way to getting your Doctor of Medicine degree, in which there is USMLE Step 1. This post covers tips on how to pass Step 1.

June 15, 2022

To earn a license in the United States, all physicians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). 

The USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams are taken before you apply for residency, and the USMLE Step 3 test is taken during your first year or two of residency. A good performance on the first steps can have a significant influence on your residency placement.

With so much depending on your exam results, it’s critical that you prepare well. That’s why we gathered some professional tips on “how to pass Step 1” for your preparation. 

What exactly is USMLE?

The USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Examination, is a three-part exam. This exam is required for practicing medicine in the United States. The USMLE exams are sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). To practice medicine in the United States, doctors with an MD degree must pass this exam.

To earn medical practice licensing, you must pass all three phases of the USMLE test.

how to pass step 1

What is the USMLE Step 1 examination?

USMLE Step 1 (sometimes known as “Step 1”) is the first of three stages required to get a medical practice license in the United States. Step 1 consists of a one-day test broken into seven 60-minute sections. The entire Step 1 test takes eight hours to complete.

Each block will have 40 test items, with a total of 280 questions throughout the exam. After their second year of medical school, American medical students take this exam. It generally occurs after the fundamental scientific curriculum has been completed.

The test measures the candidate’s knowledge of fundamental sciences and ability to apply key principles to patient care. It ensures competence, conceptual mastery, and scientific principles understanding.

Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS tests come after the Step 1 exam. The Step 2 CS test is no longer available.

How to pass Step 1?

Step 1 has become more challenging when there was a change in it. The decision by the NBME and FSMB to alter USMLE Step 1 to Pass/Fail score reporting by January 1, 2022, was one of the most significant changes to medical licensure in recent years.

Decades of tradition and advice for future residency candidates were thrown out the window with this shift. 

What does this imply for you individually? So, if you’re taking your test after the effective date of this change, you won’t have to wonder, “How high should I strive to score on Step 1?” You only need a passing score! While the passing score fluctuates from year to year, it is usually kept within a narrow range.

The passing score for Step 1 in 2018 was 194, according to the NBME/FSMB, with nearly 60% of all questions successfully answered.

If you’re taking Step 1 after the Pass/Fail system goes into effect, you’ll need to figure out your goal score while studying for Step 2 CK. Because of the Pass/Fail grading, many residency programs will want to see your Step 2 CK score when your application is due and will utilize it in the same way that they used Step 1 scores to rank applicants.

Why is the first step so important?

The importance of USMLE Step 1 can’t be overstated.

  • The USMLE Step 1 exam determines whether you comprehend and can apply key scientific topics that are fundamental to medical practice. The concepts and mechanisms underpinning health, sickness, and treatment options are given significant attention. It is vital to pass this test on your first try since it indicates a medical student’s mastery of basic science knowledge and their ability to solve issues using those concepts.
  • The score on Step 1 is an important consideration for medical residency program directors when choosing candidates for the program. The use of Step 1 scores to screen candidates has drawn much criticism. However, this does not diminish the significance of the Step 1 test.
  • If a student has previously passed the test, he or she cannot repeat it for better results. Any unsuccessful efforts at Step 1 are also logged indefinitely. These are the reasons why Step 1 is so important.
  • Currently, a candidate’s three-digit score after finishing Step 1 is crucial. It influences the specialty and location of the candidate’s residency.

Multiple-choice questions make up the majority of the eight-hour exam. The passing threshold for the USMLE Step 1 was changed in January 2022, moving to a pass/fail score system. A passing score is now 196 or higher out of 300 potential points. The USMLE Step 2 test is still a numerical assessment, and residency program directors are likely to emphasize this score throughout their application evaluation.

Let’s look at how a candidate can ace this test now that we’ve seen why Step 1 is so important.

How do you prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam with 7 Tips?

You’ll hear a lot about this test throughout your first two years of medical school. Because the material might be daunting, we’ve broken it down into seven key components to consider as you prepare for Step 1.

#Tip 1: Learn about the syllabus and the testing process

The first step in beginning your USMLE Step 1 preparation is to familiarise yourself with the USMLE Step 1 syllabus and testing method. The Step 1 examination covers subjects such as:

  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nutrition and Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Embryology and Gross Anatomy
  • Cell Biology and Histology
  • Psychological Sciences
  • Genetics

The licensing authority may update this list of specialties at any time. As a result, staying current with the curriculum is essential. Changes in test delivery software, Step 1 exam dates, and access to new practice materials are all announced on the official USMLE website. As a result, frequent visits to the USMLE website are recommended.

#Tip 2: Begin studying as soon as possible

It’s not the type of test you want to cram for at the last minute when it comes to USMLE preparation. Because of the extensive material covered in this part of the test, preparing for Step 1 might take a long time due to the curriculum. It is an eight-hour test that covers a wide range of topics. It will take as much time as you have to prepare for such an undertaking.

The USMLE Step 1 is normally taken near the conclusion of the second year of medical school, although it’s a good idea to start studying early.

Keeping your USMLE Step 1 preparation top of mind as you work through those courses might be beneficial. Step 1 will be testing you on the stuff you’re supposed to master over those first couple of years of medical school. Studying USMLE materials while taking core classes gives you a different perspective on the content and helps you prepare for the test months before you start studying.

Specific resources will differ depending on your medical school’s student support services, although some schools provide students with USMLE study materials. SGU, for example, provides many prominent USMLE prep question banks to its students, some of which are integrated into the course curriculum. These can assist students in determining which topics they have comprehended and which may require further attention.

Setting aside time each day to study for the USMLE exam can help you grasp the information well before the exam, allowing you to do a USMLE Step 1 review before your exam. Running a review like this can assist you to figure out your strengths and weaknesses.

how to pass step 1

#Tip 3: Make use of the appropriate resources

As you progress through your USMLE Step 1 preparation, you’ll come across a variety of suggestions for books to read, study plans to follow, and more. However, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution that will work for everyone.

Since each student’s learning style is different, you must first figure out how you best absorb new information. Some kids, for example, get into academic problems because they believe they learn best on their own.

You can examine a variety of study guides and other resources on your own, but we recommend joining a peer study group if you discover that you work best with some assistance or in the company of others.

Resources with a high yield boost the chance of succeeding

In the context of USMLE preparation, high yield information refers to any material that is most likely to appear on the test. Your professors and mentors are excellent sources of high-yield information. They have the necessary knowledge to identify high-yield information since they have previously gone through all of these procedures.

Aside from that, there are high-yield books that may assist you. One such book for the USMLE Step 1 is First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. Learning high-yield material aids your test performance and enables you to better serve your patients with the knowledge you’ve gained.

You should make a list of high-yield information resources and use them during your preparation.

Multiple online review packages are available to help you pass the USMLE. Students studying for the USMLE tests have usually used Kaplan, USMLE Works, Pass Program, and Beker, among other proven programs. These tools frequently include practice questions, and experts advise that you take the USMLE within 3 to 4 months of finishing your review course.

#Tip 4: Discover and improve your learning style

Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic are the four learning modes suggested by the VARK model.

According to a survey published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, most first-year students are auditory learners, whereas final-year students and postgraduates favor kinesthetic learning.

Not everyone will benefit from the same learning technique. Determine your learning type and tailor your study time appropriately. This knowledge will aid you in learning how to study for the USMLE Step 1 exam.

You’ll also need to hunt for materials that will assist you in correctly comprehending topics.

Flashcards, question banks, and 3D atlases, for example, can aid in preparation.

#Tip 5: Effective preparation is critical

Making a schedule and adhering to it can help you finish your supplies list. However, if you are unable to remember knowledge well, it will be useless. Effective preparation necessitates your whole concentration on the subject at hand.

Because the USMLE Step 1 covers the topics you’ll learn in your first two years of medical school, your academic achievement will be a direct reflection of your overall understanding of the material. If you are having academic difficulties, you should get help as soon as possible.

As your exam day nears, consider how you will use your time. Too many distractions may cause you to lose concentration on your last preparations. The following are some suggestions for doing so.

  • Avoid becoming distracted when studying.
  • Taking pauses in between studying sessions might help you stay focused.
  • To add to the preceding tip, avoid taking too many or too long breaks.
  • Self-care is essential for staying focused.

#Tip 6: Take USMLE practice exams

Taking practice examinations is one of the most efficient USMLE preparation techniques. This is the most accurate technique to imitate the actual procedure. Many medical students and professors advocate taking the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) practice examinations, which are designed to the same requirements as the USMLE assessments.

It is recommended that you devote a significant amount of time to studying a particular field before taking a practice exam. There are several practice test materials accessible.

It’s worth noting, though, that your score on a practice exam can be a little overstated. When students take the practice NBME tests for Step 1, I usually advise them to deduct 15 to 20 points from the marks they earn at home or in their apartment.

It’s worth noting, though, that your score on a practice exam can be a little overstated. When you are taking the practice NBME tests for Step 1, we advise them to deduct 15 to 20 points from the marks they earn at home or in their apartment.

Analyze the outcomes of each practice exam to determine your weak spots. You can then concentrate more on your weak areas. This procedure will also assist you in becoming acquainted with the testing procedure. It also aids in preventing nervousness at testing centers.

#Tip 7: Recognize and avoid exam prep burnout

Burnout is a psychological phrase that describes a state of being overwhelmed and exhausted by particular situations. Exhaustion, lack of excitement, increased pessimism, lower performance, and other symptoms are common.

It’s critical to recognize burnout and solve the problems before they have a negative impact on your preparedness.

Because of the quantity of content that must be studied, USMLE Step 1 preparation might be difficult. The balance between USMLE preparation and medical school might be difficult for those preparing while in school. Learning how to study for the USMLE Step 1 is critical.

You must first determine your objectives and the level of work required. It will assist you in avoiding being overwhelmed. Then, as previously indicated, create a study plan and begin studying.

Know your limitations and take pauses when needed. You can enhance productivity and lessen the danger of burnout by understanding your limits. Taking a day off and looking after oneself is equally important.

When you’re having trouble with your preparation, seek advice from your peers or mentors. Also, be prepared to make lifestyle modifications to accommodate test preparation.

Because of its sheer size, the syllabus might be intimidating to look at. You’ll be able to ace the exam if you plan ahead and put in the necessary hours. As previously said, all you need to do is familiarise yourself with the curriculum, make a study program, continue to learn, take practice exams, and enhance your preparation technique. To avoid burnout, remember to take pauses and manage your schedule.

The bottom line

The vast amount of knowledge covered on the USMLE might make studying for it appears burdensome. It is, however, possible if you know what to study and how to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 and have a thorough understanding of the topics tested. What’s more, with our 7 study tips on how to pass Step 1, the preparation for your exam is no longer daunting.

Don’t forget to take our free USMLE practice test at Medtutor to get familiarized with the format as well as the questions of the actual exam to strengthen your knowledge and skills, as a result, enhancing your chance to pass the USMLE exam with a high score on your first attempt. Good luck to you!